Minus Wigginton & Boggs, Cardinals Clean Out Their Closet
Give John Mozeliak credit, he isn’t shy about admitting his mistakes. In two sweeping moves on Tuesday afternoon, he rearranged the Cardinal roster by removing two of the most debated presences in the Cardinal organization, in Ty Wigginton and Mitchell Boggs. And with the two moves, the Cardinals brought a resounding end to two of their biggest annoyances of the year.
Not much was required to add to the Cardinals after last season, as a vast majority of the roster that finished one game short of the World Series returned. And where there wasn’t carryover, there were replacements from within waiting to slide into place. The most notable external additions the team made were role players in corner infielder Wigginton and shortstop Ronny Cedeno, as well as left-handed reliever Randy Choate. Now, just half a season later, two-thirds of that trio is out of the uniform with a half of a week until the All-Star Break begins.
While Cedeno’s early struggles saw him never even make it out of the spring, Wigginton stuck with the team despite a similarly bad start. After struggling mightily in the spring, he never shook off that start, hitting only .158 through 57 at-bats that came mostly as a pinch hitter. The reasoning of adding the 35-year old was to add a right-handed hitting presence to a fairly light hitting bench collection. But the fact that he could not perform in the role that he was his primary function (all but 14 of his at-bats came as a pinch hitter), as well as the fact he added nothing defensively, made his presence on the team a non-factor.
From the beginning, the two years and five million dollar total he was signed for was an eye brow raiser, especially for a player that hadn’t hit over .270 for four years, and was rated the worst player by win shares in baseball the previous year. In the end, the club decided that eating crow on the financial side of it wasn’t as big of a problem as carrying dead weight on the roster, and released Wigginton. In his place, veteran catcher Rob Johnson was promoted from Memphis, where he was hitting .236 with seven home runs. With the promotion of Johnson, backup catcher Tony Cruz is free to serve in the role of right-handed bench bat/utility infielder, a role that Mike Matheny wasn’t comfortable in using him in previously due to him being the only other capable catcher in case of emergency.
Cutting loses on Wigginton was a simple decision in comparison to the other move of the day, which saw the end of the turmoil filled season of Mitchell Boggs in St. Louis. The team traded the maligned reliever to the Colorado Rockies, bringing to an end his six year tenure with the club. Boggs’ implosion was swift, and seemingly unending. After opening the season has the club’s first fill-in closer, he quickly was disposed from the role after posting an ERA over nine, and ended at a gruesome 11.05 after his final outing with the club on May 30th, when he surrender a game-tying home run vs. Kansas City Royals in another late game situation. He attempted to pull it together in Memphis as a starter over the past month, but in the end, a combination of having completely lost his way and purpose in St. Louis moving ahead, as well as a quickly plummeting value on the trade market, forced Mozeliak to make what seemed like an improbable move just a few months ago.
Boggs was the best eighth inning pitcher in the National League a year ago, leading the circuit in holds with 34 and posting a 2.21 ERA in 78 games. He was selected to the US offering for the World Baseball Classic and was comfortably slid into the ninth inning role when Jason Motte’s injured elbow ended his year. Yet it became clear he wasn’t the man he previously was, and fell out of place with the club as quickly as he had risen. In return for him the club gained the Rockies international signing bonus slot, to allot towards international bonus money signings.
Often, the question is what can be added to a club around this time of the season. Yet, in many cases, less can be more. In an organization that that is brimming with young talent looking for a shot, perhaps Mozeliak’s removal of the failed experiment of Wigginton and the end of the fall from grace of Boggs, will add more to the club, than anything else could bring in.
Nothing wrong with balling up a bad plan and tossing it into the waste can. There is still plenty of time to make a good one.